‘I’m kind of coming home:’ Long-term Bryant librarian returns as director

‘I’m kind of coming home:’ Long-term Bryant librarian returns as director
Michele Lipson returns to the Bryant Library as its new director. She previously worked at the library for 23 years and left to become Plainedge Public Library's director for the last 5 1/2 years. (Photo courtesy of the Bryant Library)

When Michele Lipson first began working at the Bryant Library in 1994, it was a snowy day in February. On Friday, a warm day in April, she will return to the library once again as its new director, a dream come true for her.

“This is especially meaningful and special to me because I’m kind of coming home,” Lipson said.

Lipson started her library career at the Great Neck Library where she worked in the children’s room. The young adult section librarian had left to work at Bryant Library and Lipson took over her position.

Sometime later, the young adult librarian at Bryant Library needed a medical replacement and Lipson stepped in, working part time at both libraries for the year.

From there, Lipson fell in love with Bryant Library.

“I drove in and it was a snowy day in February, and I hate the snow and the winter, but I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life,” Lipson said. “And I loved it.”

When the Bryant Library young adult librarian returned, she and Lipson realized how well they worked together. There was an opening in the reference department, and Lipson moved there to continue working at Roslyn’s library with her.

While Lipson worked in the library, she started the first library blog in Nassau County, writing about various topics. Her blog helped her to advance in the Bryant Library.

In 2006, Lipson became the library’s technology librarian full time. She stayed in this position until 2017 when she left the library.

Lipson said she realized that she wanted to continue moving up through library administration. She said doing so would help her “effect the change” that she wanted to achieve.

At the Bryant Library, Lipson said there was no availability to move upwards in the way she wanted, and while she loved working there, she knew she had to make a leap for her career even if that took her elsewhere.

She said leaving was very difficult as she had worked there for 23 years.

She left the Bryant Library to work at the Plainedge Public Library, where she served as its director for 5 ½ years.

But now, Lipson gets to return home and as its director, a position she had aspired to.

Lipson compared the library director to a CEO. Responsibilities include overseeing staff, library inventory collection, policy oversight, procuring the library’s budget and community engagement.

Essentially the director has to ensure everything runs smoothly at the library.

Lipson said her heart and soul are invested in the Bryant Library due to how much time, energy and love she had previously put into the establishment.

“I made amazing friends and colleagues, some of whom are still there, and Roslyn is a very special place,” Lipson said. “The library stands alone.”

She said one aspect of the library that makes it so important is the immense community support it receives, which she pointed out is not universally true.

“It is the heart of the community,” Lipson said.

On Wednesday, Lipson had the day off and happened to run into a community member who frequents the Bryant Library and whom she had not seen in 5 ½ years. Despite the elapsed time, the woman recognized Lipson and told her she was excited for her return to the library and reminisced on all the great book recommendations Lipson had offered her.

“I’ve missed that so much, being part of a community like this,” Lipson said.

She said her plan for stepping into this position is to assess the community’s needs, what the library board desires and what works for their staff.

“My intention is to really listen and see what it is the community wants,” Lipson said.

She said whatever the goals of the community and the board are for the library, she is prepared to take it anywhere that serves them best.

“It’s not about me,” Lipson said. “The library stole my heart in the ’90s when I got there, but it’s not mine. I have the privilege of overseeing it for a time, but ultimately the goals are set by the people who pay taxes in the community and those are the people I need to listen to.”

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